The long-awaited film by Pedro Almodovar, inspired by three short stories from the collection “ On the Run ” (2004) by the Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro, is finally in cinemas and I, as a lover of this director, I rushed to see it. And, when you go to see a film of him, you already know what awaits you: stories of women, stories of loneliness, complicated relationships and a deep delve into the soul of the characters.
However, Almodovar always manages to amaze by offering stories that do not bore, characterized by surprises and twists. Furthermore, in my opinion, the warm and comfortable Latin setting of the events favors the identification with the characters, who seem much closer than those played by Hollywood stars.
And to think that initially, in 2009 (the year in which Almodovar acquired the rights to On the Run), Meryl Streep had been hired for the part of Julieta and the director had thought of shooting the scenes in Canada (where Alice’s stories are set). Munro) and New York. But the director, unwilling to write a screenplay in English, abandoned the idea and set aside the film project for years.
Some time later, driven by his collaborators, Almodovar decides to get back to work but to set the story in Spain, in Madrid, to write the screenplay in his mother tongue and to hire Spanish actresses, less known to the general international audience.
Almodovar writes the story of Julieta inspired by three of the stories present in the collection On the run: Fatality, Soon and Silence. Initially he decides to title his work Silencio (Silence in English) but, in post-production, he changes his mind to avoid being confused with Silence by Martin Scorsese, also out in 2016. The finished work takes the title from the name of the protagonist, Julieta precisely.
Julieta (Emma Suarez in the film) is a middle-aged woman who lives in Madrid and is about to move to Portugal with her boyfriend. Everything is ready for departure and every object in her house is packed in boxes. Julieta seems determined to leave Madrid forever, a city full of painful memories and where she spent part of her life.
The calm Julieta manifests before leaving is only apparent and her decision to leave the city is questioned when she meets Beatriz, a childhood friend of her daughter Antia.
And here Julieta entrusts her story of her and her memories to a diary that she begins to write the night before the day of departure and through which the viewer discovers her past and her secrets.
The recipient of the diary is Antia, who has disappeared from her life by leaving home and to whom her mother turns sincerely, telling her everything she has never told her about meeting her beloved Xoan, Antia’s father and fisherman with which Julieta lived as a young man (Adriana Ugarte in the film) in a house by the sea.
And, after the first tragedy occurred on the night of the first meeting with Xoan and which weighs on Julieta’s soul like a boulder, the woman reviews the subsequent events of her life as a woman, mother and daughter in a narrative intertwining between past and here I’m. The temporal ellipse is noteworthy where the dimension of today and yesterday intersect, making the current Julieta (Emma Suarez) meet for a moment the young one (Adriana Ugarte) under a towel with which Antia dries her mother’s hair.
The Julieta of before and after is certainly different: one full of life and eager to establish herself as a wife, mother and teacher, the other worn out by the sense of guilt for two tragedies for which she feels responsible, alone and unable to communicate with her daughter who abandons her without giving her news for years.
The locations are also very interesting: the events intertwine between the crowded and always lively city of Madrid, where Julieta lives as an adult, and a fishing village where the woman lives as a young man with Xoan and her daughter and the mountains that instead close the film, towards the new goal – and the new life – of Julieta. A strong contrast also between the different houses in which the indoor scenes are set: modern and classy apartments, very cold and not very welcoming, which contrast with the typical Spanish houses that we are used to seeing in Almodovar’s films, full of colors and mosaics, which transmit heat.
Both the external and internal environments vary according to the stages of the protagonist’s life, reflecting her moods.
In a great film, which has nothing to envy to the Hollywood canons but from which Almodovar is well aware, it is possible to tell in depth the story of a woman who could be one of us, or our mother or, again, our daughter. . A film where the female theme stands out, but which also the male viewer certainly appreciates, because Julieta is the face and soul of a woman who could meet in her life.
I recommend not only to see the film, but also to read some stories by the writer Alice Munro, which I discovered thanks to Julieta. With a delicate narrative style – which personally reminds me of Harper Lee and Elizabeth Strout – she is the author and able to bring unforgettable female characters to life.
. Valentina Morlacchi

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